Global Children’s Designathon 2018 Report on Deforestation

Global Children's Designathon 2018 Report on Deforestation
Global Children’s Designathon 2018

During the Global Children’s Designathon 2018, 1,000 children aged 7 to 13 years, across 30 countries participated. The theme was deforestation and children ideated and invented solutions to this global environmental challenge. Clearwater’s Fabrication Lab at Saint Paul’s School was one of the Host Cities.

During the event students were given a survey to provide a deeper understanding of the thought and motivation of our future generation on the issue of deforestation. The conclusive results and overwhelming outcome of these future voices are gathered in this report:

Global Children’s Designathon 2018

On November 3rd 2018, children aged 7-12 from all over the globe came together for the fourth time to work in parallel and design solutions for a better world.

Global Childrens Designathon 2018

This 4th Edition of the Global Children’s Designathon 2018 has grown to 30 Cities Worldwide. Clearwater’s Fabrication Lab at Saint Paul’s School represented the United States for the 2nd time.

This year, children discussed and ideated around the Life On Land issues, a U.N. Sustainable Development Goal. SDG 15 addresses issues such as how to grow food, the needs of wildlife, deforestation, desertification, and biodiversity.

Children imagined and designed sustainable solutions around these issues, built prototypes, and presented them to each other. The students created amazing ideas and models, and had a great time working together.

The Global Children’s Designathon is a structured workshop in which children ages 7 – 12 years invent, build and present their self-devised solutions to a social or environmental issue around the Sustainable Development Goals. A workshop lasts four to six hours and is facilitated by education professionals.

The experience helps children become future ready through learning to design and use technology. The Designathon method combines aspects of Design Thinking and Maker Education, both approaches that are gaining ground in education systems around the world

To see photos and videos of the event, please visit the Global Children’s Designathon Facebook Page, and the Designathon Works Florida Facebook page.

Integrating Khan Academy into Curriculum

Khan-Academy-Digital-SignatureIntegrating Khan Academy into curriculum is fun and easy with Khan Academy supplying all the necessary resources and help. Having integrated Khan Academy into my curriculum for the last five years, I highly recommend that all teachers, students, and parents take advantage of this tremendous resource.

Recently, I had the honor of being selected as a Khan Academy Ambassador. Khan Academy’s mission is “to provide a free, world‑class education for anyone, anywhere”. Just one look at the comprehensive subject offerings at confirms that there is something to learn for everyone. The content is very high quality and standards aligned. The videos, exercises, and activities are very engaging for students.

For teachers, Khan Academy offers excellent tools that make this the go to resource for an online curriculum supplement. Classes are easy to set up, and the reporting features make assessment easy. Content is easy to assign and completely customizable by class and student. Content may be assigned as homework or in class practice to help identify skill gaps and learning differences. The available content and reporting tools also make this the perfect “flipped classroom” tool. In the Resource section of the Coach Dashboard are comprehensive help topics to guide teachers through the process of integrating Khan Academy into curriculum. Khan-Academy-Teacher-Certificate

In addition to the extensive online reference section for teachers, Khan Academy offers an excellent free Teacher Training Course with a certificate of completion! All US teachers automatically get access to the training through the Coach dashboard from May 14th to August 10th. There you will see the Khan Academy Teacher Training checklist and be able to access the videos and resources. I highly recommend taking advantage of this training!

For students, the self paced activities and easy to follow videos set them up for success. Students will become empowered learners and are rewarded with points and badges. The exercises offer support and tips to help students be successful.

For parents, Khan Academy is the ultimate free tutoring and homeschooling resource. In the Resource section of the Coach Dashboard are comprehensive help topics to guide parents and mentors to set up classes and get the most out of Khan Academy.

As a teacher, you should explore and embrace this fabulous educational resource. You will be happy that you integrated Khan Academy into your curriculum!


Sources of High Quality Free Images

It is important for students and teachers to understand, recognize, and honor Copyrighted images and material. While there are “Fair Use” and “Educational” exemptions to Copyright infringement, I believe it is important to teach students good sources of high quality free images that are clearly designated for reuse. What may start as a classroom assignment, may end up as a monetized video on YouTube with the “Fair Use” or “Educational” exemption no longer applying.

With the increased use of multimedia presentations and digital storytelling in the classroom, finding sources of high quality free images clearly designated for reuse is important. Sourcing images that are appropriate to reuse is not as simple as selecting “Labeled for reuse” in your browser. While this practice can help narrow down results, it is not a guarantee against Copyright issues or having inappropriate images display in results.

Following are some sources of high quality free images that are designated for reuse. Each site has clear rights information to assist in teaching good usage practices. Some have opportunities to participate in, or contribute to their community.

Sources of High Quality Free Images

Wikimedia Commons: Wikimedia Commons is a repository of media created and organized by volunteer contributors. The license conditions of each image is available on the description page. There are opportunities for aspiring photographers to contribute to the repository, and participate in the monthly photo contests. I have enjoyed contributing images to this site and participate in the monthly photo contests. There are over 46 Million media files available. Your students will find high quality images for every topic conceivable.

Sources of High Quality Free Images

Rijks Museum: The Rijks Museum is the museum of the Netherlands with a vision of sharing Art and History. They have a comprehensive collection of Dutch Art and History, as well as European and Asian Art. High resolution images of original art are available for download. This resource may not be appropriate for grades younger than high school because there are images of nudes. It does require that you set up a free account.

Sources of High Quality Free Images

NGA: NGA Images is a collection of high resolution digital images of the National Gallery of Art. On this website you can search and download from over 51,000 high quality images. Their Help section provides technical assistance and a downloadable reproduction guide.

Sources of High Quality Free Images

The Getty Museum: The Getty Collections include Antiquities, Sculptures, Paintings, Manuscripts, Drawings and Photographs. All available digital images to which the Getty holds the rights to or that are in the public domain may be downloaded for any purpose without cost or permission required.

Sources of High Quality Free Images

Walters Art Museum:  Known Internationally, the Walters Art Museum is one of the few museums in the world to represent comprehensive collections of art from the Third Millennium BCE to the early 20th Century. It makes available digital images under Creative Commons CC0 license to waive copyright and allow for unrestricted use.

Sources of High Quality Free Images

NASA: The NASA Image and Video Library contains amazing images that are generally not copyrighted. The content may be used for non-commercial educational or informational purposes. This general permission extends to personal Web pages. Be advised the actual NASA logo is protected by copyright and may not be used without permission. NASA provides a comprehensive usage guide on the site.

Sources of High Quality Free Images

NOAA: The NOAA collection includes over 32,000 images of weather, space, seas, coastlines, and a wide variety of marine species. Most NOAA photos and slides are in the public domain. There is no fee for downloading any images on the NOAA Photo Library. Educational use is encouraged so students will become mindful of the environment and act responsibly.

Sources of High Quality Free Images

Library of Congress The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. The Digital Collections are available for worldwide use and reuse under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

Global Voices of the Next Generation on Water

Designathon Works has just released the excellent report: Global Voices of the Next Generation on Water.

Global Voices of the Next Generation on Water
Global Voices of the Next Generation on Water

The Global Children’s Designathon, that took place on November 11th 2017, is the backbone of the Global Voices of the Next Generation on Water Report. During this event more than 600 children aged 7 to 12 years, participated in 18 cities around the world, where they created solutions to this year’s big societal and environmental issue: WATER.

The Global Children’s Designathon provides a channel for two way inspiration: the children get to tackle the world’s biggest problems and adults can gain a unique view of what the next generation envisions around water issues. The solutions they came up with are amazing and informed by their context. This report shows that children care for our planet, are aware of water-related issues, believe these issues are pressing, and offer concrete solutions to solve them.

Clearwater’s Fabrication Lab at Saint Paul’s School was honored to be a host for the Global Children’s Designathon, and to contribute to the report. Please take time to read the report to see some of the amazing designs that the children created!

Global Children’s Designathon 2017

Global Childrens DesignathonOn November 11th, Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater will be joining cities like London, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Nairobi, Amsterdam and Vancouver, as a host for the 3rd Annual Global Children’s Designathon.

Every year in November, Designathon Works organizes a worldwide event during which children in different cities around the world work in parallel with the Designathon methodology to find solutions for societal or environmental issues.

Saint Paul’s was selected as a host because of our curriculum, Fab Lab resources, and dedicated educators for Design Thinking and Maker Education.

The Designathon methodology combines aspects of Design Thinking and Maker Education, both approaches which are gaining ground in education systems around the world, and uses them to work around societal and environmental issues such as mobility, water, food, waste and circular economy. Students from 7 to 12 years old develop solutions to major social problems and through this process the new generation of changemakers is cultivated.

I will be guiding the students and facilitators through the Designathon process: inspire, research, ideate, sketch, make and present. During the process, students from different cities will communicate their ideas with each other through live video exchange. At the end of the day students will present their inventions to the panel of experts that will give them their feedback, and will announce 4 inventions that excel in the categories like: empathy, execution, short term implementation, long term implementation.

Digital Citizenship Curriculum

With the proliferation of device usage in schools, having a comprehensive Digital Citizenship Curriculum that engages students is crucial. While most schools and parents do their best to filter content and have usage policies in place, the students are the ones that need to be Internet savvy, and be able to make good choices online.

There are many good resources available, but there was a need for a complete package that was student-centric and gamified. This summer, Google introduced “Be Internet Awesome”, a comprehensive Digital Citizenship Curriculum that is outstanding. In addition to the excellent ISTE aligned lesson plans, Google created a fabulous online adventure game “Interland”.

Digital Citizenship Curriculum
Interland Digital Citizenship Curriculum

“Interland” takes students through a gamified adventure made of four worlds, where they learn to make good decisions about password safety, sharing information, avoiding scams, and being kind. I used this Digital Citizenship Curriculum the first week of school with my 4th and 5th Graders, and they loved it. They were able to be successful with the challenges, and really enjoyed the interface. Most of them continued the “Interland” adventure outside of school at home! They understood the lessons, and felt that it was cool to be “Internet Awesome”. Students receive certificates for completing the challenges.

Interland Digital Citizenship Curriculum Certificate
Interland Digital Citizenship Curriculum Completion Certificate

All the school firewalls and filters in the world cannot prevent a student with a cellular enabled tablet from going somewhere inappropriate. Teaching students the necessary skills to be smart online is the best approach. Having a powerhouse like Google produce a Digital Citizenship Curriculum creates credibility and awareness, and gets the buy in from the students. As a technology teacher I am very glad they created this. This is a tremendous tool for teachers and parents that will be engaged and enjoyed by your students. Thank you Google!

Additional Digital Citizenship Curriculum and Internet Safety Resources:

Family Online Safety institute

Connect Safely

Adding VEX IQ to your Robotics Curriculum

As part of our robotics education expansion to include all Pre K-8 grades, we wanted to add VEX to the robotics curriculum. After attending VEX workshops at ISTE and speaking with their staff, we chose VEX IQ to start with. We decided on IQ mainly because we are an Apple School, and it was our first experience with VEX. We purchased a classroom bundle of 12 kits, and the latest competition course for a new robotics elective I created for our middle school.

VEX IQ Classroom Ki
VEX IQ Classroom Kit

There are two native programming environments for VEX IQ, ROBOTC and Modkit. Only the Modkit is cross platform, and being an Apple school, that helped sway our decision toward VEX IQ. Modkit is also available as an iPad App, which is convenient for our BYOD and 1:1 iPad programs. There is also an excellent third party web based interface option, Robot Mesh Studio.

VEX IQ Modkit Interface
VEX IQ Modkit Interface

VEX is committed to education, offering a free, standards matched curriculum. Additionally, VEX has partnered with The Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute and Project Lead The Way (PLTW). VEX even provides a robotics camp handbook.

While my students enjoyed working with the VEX IQ kits, they really became excited about the competition course. VEX has created an excellent robotics competition community through their Robotics Education & Competition Foundation. While these competitions have only been around a few years, they have really caught on and are well organized and attended. The resources that they provide are comprehensive.

VEX OS Utility
Easy to use VEX OS Utility for firmware updates

The middle school elective class was the first to use the kits, and even the students without any robotics experience were successful. I have since introduced the VEX IQ to some experienced lower school roboteers very successfully. The pictorial directions, posters with actual size part guidelines, and easy to do firmware updates, make these kits very student friendly.

The curriculum map plan is to add the VEX EDR for middle school next year now that they have some experience, and use the IQ for lower school robotics classes. I highly recommend adding VEX to your robotics curriculum.


From Empty Room to Fab Lab, a Makerspace Journey

When I started at Saint Paul’s School in August of 2015, the school had just completed a substantial makeover of the middle school building (see for details). The plans also included an area for a new, dedicated makerspace. The exciting news was that I had a wonderful empty room to develop a makerspace. The challenge was that I had a wonderful empty room to develop a makerspace.

In my research on how to equip and develop a makerspace, I came across the Fab Lab Model, the educational outreach component of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms. This was the model I aspired to create.

As the first year went on, tools and materials would slowly appear through the generosity of parents and benefactors. Soon we had a great supply of recycled and repurposed electronics and things. We started with one 3D printer and a few power tools. Through the generosity of the PTA we acquired a laser cutter. With the support and shared vision of our head of school we added a CNC machine, a second 3D printer, and some significant electronics capabilities. As the makerspace took shape and evolved, the vision to be recognized by the Fab Lab community became realistic.

My goal for this year was to achieve the Fab Lab designation and global listing.

Makerspace at Saint Paul's School in Clearwater.
The before picture of the makerspace at Saint Paul’s School

As the Fab Foundation describes the concept on “A Fab Lab is a technical prototyping platform for innovation and invention, providing stimulus for local entrepreneurship. A Fab Lab is also a platform for learning and innovation: a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor, to invent. To be a Fab Lab means connecting to a global community of learners, educators, technologists, researchers, makers and innovators- -a knowledge sharing network that spans 30 countries and 24 time zones. Because all Fab Labs share common tools and processes, the program is building a global network, a distributed laboratory for research and invention”.

Becoming a Fab Lab Is more than just having the right fabrication equipment. There is a minimum expectation in fabrication capabilities: a laser cutter for cutting and engraving, a precision CNC milling machine, a 3D Printer, a vinyl cutter for making flexible circuits and crafts, and a fairly sophisticated electronics workbench for prototyping circuits and programming microcontrollers.

Most importantly, Fab Lab is about community. In addition to providing resources for the local community, a Fab Lab will network with the global community sharing projects and ideas.

Clearwater's Fab Lab at Saint Paul's School
The after picture, Clearwater’s Fab Lab at Saint Paul’s School

To be added to the global listing of Fab Labs, there is an application and approval process. We reached out to three “referee” labs, with hope of the approval of two as required to be included. The lab also needed it’s own website reflecting the capabilities. One approval came very quickly, and the second one followed shortly. Needless to say we were elated! We are now listed on the global Fab Lab website:

By having a Fab Lab in an independent school, we are very fortunate to have many resources to share with the global and local community. As part of our offerings, we will have classes in prototyping and fabrication, 3D Printing and modeling, robotics, and more. On April 1st, we are hosting an “Engineering Day”, where we are opening the facility to the local community for lessons and demonstrations. We will hold many similar events throughout the year. Our summer camps are open to all students.

We are very pleased to announce the newly created Fab Lab at Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater Florida, and to be part of the global Fab Lab community. For details about our facility, please visit

Teaching Fusion 360 in Middle School

With many schools adopting and integrating 3D Printing, choosing the right 3D CAD/CAM software is a crucial part of an effective curriculum. Fusion 360 by Autodesk is a cloud based, cross-platform, complete design and development solution for your students. The best news is that teaching Fusion 360 is free for students and educators! This powerful design tool is the ideal program to create 3D models that can be sent right to your 3D Printer.

Teaching Fusion 360 in Middle School

Historically, most 3D CAD/CAM programs had a very steep learning curve, often to the point of being discouraging.  The user friendly interface and easier learning curve is well suited to teaching Fusion 360 in middle school. Autodesk provides excellent tutorials and learning tools on their website to help students and teachers become proficient quickly. Additionally, their YouTube Channel has more videos to help you master the interface.

Teaching Fusion 360 in Middle School
Excellent and easy to follow tutorials

Autodesk is clearly committed to the educational market. In addition to being free, Fusion 360 has an extensive community providing excellent collaboration opportunities. The interface allows students and teachers to share files and collaborate for easy project management and assessment.

At Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater, we have a trimester long 3D Printing and Modeling course that I developed for the Middle School. Students enjoyed the creative opportunity and quick learning curve that Fusion 360 provided. Students experienced immediate design successes with Fusion 360, and watched their designs become reality in the 3D Printer! Being a BYOD school, students are always having their earbuds get tangled up. The first class project was to design and print an earbud holder. This was a project students could relate to, and inspired them to learn Fusion 360. The skill level to create the project was learned quickly, with students completing a design in just two classes. Other projects included industrial designs, fidget toys, and a capstone project of their own design and purpose.

Teaching Fusion 360 in Middle School
We use MakerBot 3D Printers at Saint Paul’s because of the reliability and excellent service.

With 3D printing becoming mainstream, knowing a comprehensive 3D modeling program is as important as knowing a word processing program. I highly recommend teaching Fusion 360 at your Middle School.

Here is an easy first lesson plan to get students excited to learn Fusion 360 for 3D modeling and   printing: